Apr 26, 2017

[TV] Grace and Frankie: Season 3

I didn't expect to get into Grace and Frankie as much as I have and I've even dragged my partner Tobie into the mix of things. But the show has proven to be quite funny and very thoughtfully written, which is seen in how the show has made it to a third season on Netflix.

Grace and Frankie is a brilliant examination of life in one's older years through the lens of wry comedy. It's not the kind of show that needs sight gags and slapstick humor to drive home jokes. Instead it's the sort of comedy that makes you laugh because things are so relatable - and how they manage to make the problems of the older generation relatable to younger people is part of the magic of the show.

And let's face it the primary cast is amazingly talented and great at balancing both comedy and drama as needed throughout the episodes. And this third season really has a lot of both aspects coloring its story arcs in its usual low-key yet funny way.

Synopsis: Grace and Frankie is a comedy drama series created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris for Netflix. The show is already confirmed for a fourth season.

The third season begins with Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) beginning their business journey of creating senior-friendly vibrators. But of course their highly different personality styles don't always make them the best of business partners but the two do their best to see things through. Soon enough they manage to get production going and start to ship orders but the bigger challenge is keeping up with demand and figuring out whether or not they want to work with larger companies to expand their reach.

Meanwhile Robert (Martin Sheen) is embracing the retired life and tries to get Sol (Sam Waterston) to stop working and try to relax. Sol isn't quite ready to give up the only life he's known for so long but things at the office eventually help him see there may be value in changing gears. The kids have their own shenanigans, but those are better explored in the context of the show itself.

What I Liked: While the Season 2 ending of the ladies deciding to get into the vibrator business seemed like a silly idea put in for shock value, But man, this season takes that vibrator idea and really pushes things forward as the business redefines the relationship between Grace and Frankie and also brings into question how we look at the needs of the older generation.

Robert and Sol continue to shine as a couple finally enjoying a proper life together instead of an extended affair being hidden from the world. This season has them finally in a home of their own and Robert starting to explore other passions outside of his career - in this case the world of the theater. I never imagined myself rooting for Martin Sheen in a play about the founding fathers (yet it is not Hamilton).

Moment of indulgence - Coyote (Ethan Embry) just gets cuter and cuter as the show progresses. I just want to hug him and share a cup of hot cocoa with his character.

What Could Have Been Better: The show still has weird moments like Sol versus the anti-gay protesters in a weird story arc that goes on pretty long. I get the intent to show some of the oppression that the older generation faces but I felt like the whole thing was a little messy, especially how Robert responded to things. Sol's actions still felt very in character but Robert not so much.

Not all the children got great stories and you could feel the effort in trying to give Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) more of a story  beyond being a sad housewife but it didn't quite go there. Brianna (June Diane Raphael) has the beginnings of an interesting story given her own not-so-romantic dalliances but then the story fizzled out in time. Bud (Baron Vaughn) had a somewhat interesting story but mainly through how his peers just made fun of his girlfriend.

TL;DR: Grace and Frankie remains powerful and brilliant in its third season and I can't wait for the fourth one to come around. It's a very smart show and more younger people need to watch it and not just assume it's a comedy for older folks. This season gets a great 4 senior-friendly vibrators out of a possible 5.

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